Oklahoma, Davis unveil flexible short golf course

Ransom Course practice green OU_credit Joshua Gateley Joshua Gateley

Oklahoma, Davis unveil flexible short golf course

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Oklahoma, Davis unveil flexible short golf course

Oklahoma’s men’s golf team has a new tool at its disposal as it makes last-minute preparations to defend its national championship May 25-30 in Stillwater, Okla.

The Ransom Course, a four-hole short course, recently opened next to Jimmie Austin Golf Club, where the Sooners won the Norman, Okla., regional May 16 by one shot over Brigham Young and North Florida.

Ransom was designed by architect Tripp Davis, who played on the Sooners’ 1989 NCAA championship team. The short course takes its name from OU alum Jerry Ransom, who was the main project donor.

Ransom is designed to provide maximum practice flexibility for the Sooners’ men’s and women’s teams. (The women’s team currently is competing at the NCAA championships.)

“The idea was to give the kids the ability to practice every shot you can think of,” Davis said. “Instead of going over (to the range) and pounding balls, the whole theme behind the short course is to work on hitting shots, playing the game, instead of just pounding technique.”

Hole 4 A (The Ransom Course)credit TDA

Here is one of the four greens at the The Ransom Course. (TDA)

Ransom’s four greens were designed in the styles of Perry Maxwell, A.W. Tillinghast, Donald Ross and Seth Raynor. It also can be played as two par 4s, one playing north to south, the other playing the opposite direction. Various grasses were used, including Bentgrass greens, Bermuda and Zoysia tees, and different varieties of Bermuda in the fairways and rough.

The flexibility of the Ransom design has some similarities to Trilogy Golf Club at Ocala (Fla.) Preserve, an alternative layout that Davis created in collaboration with Tom Lehman. Trilogy, which opened in 2016, can be played as a regulation six-hole loop (with various configurations), an 18-hole par-3 course or a variety of shorter six- and 12-hole loops.

“What we did at Ocala didn’t hurt in thinking outside the box at Ransom,” Davis said. “At Ocala there are formal teeing areas, but you can drop a ball anywhere. So it’s similar in that regard. … (Ransom is) different from Ocala in that you can pick your poison – you can choose where you want to go, what you want to hit, what kind of shots you want to hit. Ocala is meant to be played, whereas Ransom is meant more for experiencing practice in a realistic setting.”

The opening of Ransom follows Davis’ renovations to Jimmie Austin Golf Club, which were completed last year. Davis rebuilt five holes and repositioned tees and bunkers, all with an eye toward making it a course where all players, regardless of length, have a chance of success.

“One of the things I don’t like seeing in the game is making golf courses longer and longer, and think we’re challenging the longest players,” Davis said. “At the same time, you’re making it much more difficult for the average-length player. … The longest players can’t dominate (Jimmie Austin Golf Club) anymore. I think that’s important.”

Davis has kept a busy schedule in recent years – a mixture of renovations, restorations and some new projects. But he realized recently that his work at OU held special meaning because of his ties to the university and Norman, where he still lives.

“When we did the dedication of the Ransom course the other day, it really struck me emotionally,” Davis said. “Until that day, I’d been able to keep it about business. I was there to make it as good as it could be. It didn’t really hit me until last Friday that this is where my heart and soul are. … If I had had that emotional attachment during the project, I might have been unbearable to work with.” Gwk

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